US, having Destroyed Iraq, won’t give a Dime to Reconstruction

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In an exclusive, Reuters reports today that the Trump administration is going into the Iraq reconstruction conference in Kuwait next week with no plans to contribute a dime to the effort. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi estimates that Iraq needs $100 billion to rebuild. The country is still devastated from the 2003 US war of aggression and 8.5 year military occupation, which spurred Sunni insurgencies and led to the collapse of the US- and NATO-trained military in 2014. The past 3.5 years have been spent attempting to recover the Sunni Arab areas of the country from ISIL, which involved destroying most Sunni Arab cities in the country.

Donald Trump ran on a platform of “no more nation building.” (He needn’t have bothered to articulate it. What nation has the US built recently?)

Yara Bayoumy and Jonathan Landay at Reuters report that the Trump administration is hoping that Saudi Arabia will proffer substantial aid, as a quid pro quo for the Iraqi government distancing itself from Iran.

This hope strikes me as almost completely forlorn. Saudi Arabia is trying to overthrow four governments in the region–Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Qatar, and the Shiite leaders in Baghdad would have to have their heads examined to put their heads in that lion’s mouth.

Although Iraq has a substantial oil income, it also runs big budget deficits and its non-oil economy has contracted as much as ten percent per year in recent years because of ISIL. Iraq’s debt is 63% of its GDP, which is dangerously high. The disaster of the loss of 40% of the country’s territory to ISIL in 2014 was accompanied by the disaster of a dramatic halving of oil prices in recent years. Iraq’s exact economic situation is very difficult to know because of lack of transparency, but its GDP is estimated at $192 bn for a population of roughly 32 million, for a per capita income of $6,000 a year. But that is an average and in fact most Iraqi families are desperately poor and no one knows where all that oil money has gone. When I was there four years ago, Baghdad looked dowdy and as though nothing new had been built since 1980 (compare to other oil countries like Kuwait or the UAE and the stagnation is breathtaking).

After the destruction of Tikrit, Ramadi, Falluja and Mosul (and Falluja had already been destroyed in 2004 by the Americans), Iraq needs to make massive investments in the Sunni Arab regions if it is to regain the loyalty of the people there.

Washington, having blithely set the country on the path to catastrophe, has now washed its hands of any further responsibility, with the exception of an occasional air strike against ISIL remnants.

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Bonus video:

Wochit News: “U.S. Not Planning to Contribute Money At Iraq Reconstruction Conference”

10 Responses

  1. The arrogance of the US. Shock, awe, kill, maim, and bomb a functioning nation into smithereens, using false intelligence, and then walk away without looking back, leaving chaos and suffering.

    I wonder why some Americans are still not able to understand why we are hated around the world.

  2. I see in paragraph four of your piece, professor, you refer to the Syrian government whereas hitherto you have called them a regime with the implication they have (had) no legitimacy? Its been obvious from the start that the Syrian catastrophe was engineered by the Saudi REGIME from the start who provided arms, money and logistics with a large dose of USA help together with my own US vassal state (UK).

    • A regime is a government. Regimes are typically tightly organized, like the Baath Party in Syria or the Communist Party in North Korea. Saudi Arabia has not at least until recently had a regime. Your hang up on the term is imposing on it meanings it does not have. It is true that regimes are less legitimate than elected governments.

  3. Women wailing on American TV while bombs falling, ancient artifacts destroyed, too many killed and maimed (Iraqis and Americans), and US soldiers standing by at public hangings. A very sad chapter in US History. Carol Moseley Braun spoke of obligation that might arise to fix something once you have broken it. A good argument against the breaking, and for repair of things that have not been broken beyond repair.

  4. Haven’t we already spent billions during the time of occupation? All those pallets of money are all gone? Probably.

    • The occupation money was to try to pacify a country in rebellion and do some P.R. for back home. Those few pallets you mention were corrupted away quickly by U.S.-government approved interests. NONE OF THE OCCUPATION MONEY SPENT WAS REALLY SPENT ON IRAQIS AND THE U.S. OWES THE IRAQI PEOPLE THEIR LIVES AND THEIR NATION BACK. BUILD THAT NATION!

      It’s hard to admit and sad also that my country and yours has war criminal governments, but it’s true.

      • It’s not at all hard to admit that – but I still don’t want US taxdollars disappearing into the coffers of a corrupt Iraqi government.

  5. In recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, former US diplomat James Jeffrey cited “the chaos we deliberately created” to confront past challengers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Jeffrey is a former Deputy National Security Advisor (2007–2008) and US Ambassador to Iraq (2010–2012) so if anyone should know the truth it is him.

    The US deliberately created chaos in Iraq and now Trump refuses to help fix the resultant human misery.

    A clever placard was spotted at the recent women’s march in Washington: “Does this ass make my country look small?” Given the lack of reconstruction aid for Iraq I’d say the answer is a resounding “yes”.

  6. According to the politicians who recently dickered the US budget, the American military has been devastated and desperately needs to be replenished. From this side of the world, these wars in Iraq and elsewhere wreak havoc on the military. So hundreds of $billions are needed for the next wars. America’s economic model of guns & gutters: we need our resources for guns, and others can worry about fixing the gutters.

  7. And the EU and the UN should demand that the US pick up the costs of the waves of millions of refugees set in motion by catastrophic US military adventures.

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